Baldrige is widely recognized as the “gold standard” for managing the performance of any organization. The criteria create strong bonds among and between all aspects of any system and when understood, lead an organization to self-assess and identify gaps between results and expectations.

This program takes the High Performance Organization (HPO) and modifies them to fit an educational setting. The outcome is a strong, learning-centered school system that is continuously evolving and improving.

Baldrige in Education (BiE) is an evolution of the applications from the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. It is a systems approach used by many High Performing Organizations (HPOs) throughout the country. This proven, internationally recognized, organizational method provides criteria to assist Prince William County Schools in achieving the long-range goal of moving from good to great.

Under the BiE philosophy, core values are the basic principles that not only bind an organization together but also define what an organization deems important. These values remain intact during good times and bad, and they act as guiding principles for the everyday decisions and actions of leaders, management, and staff. The eleven guiding principles of BiE are:

  • Visionary leadership
  • Learning-centered education
  • Organizational and personal learning
  • Valuing faculty, staff, and partners
  • Organizational agility
  • Focus on the future
  • Managing for innovation
  • Management by fact
  • Social responsibility
  • Focus on results
  • Systems perspective
  • Quality management techniques

BiE means a school or the school division identifies the most significant challenges and uses the criteria questions to learn about flaws in the system that keeps results lower than desired. Once the challenges are identified, strategic goals, action plans, and a measurement plan are created to monitor progress towards the goals. The Baldrige framework allows educators to identify aspects of the system that do not function effectively or efficiently, and therefore represent barriers to student and employee success. To achieve the goals, every employee and every department must work together, either in a direct manner or in a supportive role – all focused on the same goals. Data is collected frequently and used to measure progress towards the goals. When progress is not evident, a continuous improvement process is used to identify the root cause and corrective action is taken.

In a Baldrige classroom, you will find students working with teachers to direct their learning using a “plan-do-study-act” cycle. Simply put, a plan for action is made and followed, the results are reviewed, and then changes are made accordingly to make sure that students achieve at the highest level possible. Teachers guide students in setting their own learning goals in reading, writing, and math, and then help the students map out plans for achieving their goals. As part of this process, you might find students creating mission statements, goals, rules and procedure statements, and personal data folders, helping children to become active, self-directed learners.

Once Baldrige in the Classroom has been activated, students no longer say that teachers are primarily responsible for education; Baldrige students believe that they are responsible for their own academic achievements.

The Bottom Line

So what is the bottom line as far as my child is concerned?  How will Baldrige help my student to be successful now and in the future?

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Baldrige is the impact it has on student accountability, ownership, and responsibility.  Since students are totally involved in the ‘building process,’ they are far more engaged, focused and committed to their learning.  As one student stated, “I like having a data notebook where I can see my progress, of course, I’m the one in charge of my learning.”

Students learn to become independent learners by:

  • Writing personal goals based on their needs and the curriculum
  • Developing action plans to reach their goals
  • Charting progress
  • Problem-solving when goals are not being met

Students learn to make decisions and solve problems by:

  • Using quality tools such as plus/deltas to examine opportunities for improvement and force-field analysis to analyze what is driving or preventing their learning
  • Using the PDSA cycle to plan for alternative approaches to learning followed by analyzing the results

Students learn to take responsibility for learning by:

  • Writing personal goals that meet curricular expectations
  • Exploring their potential by going for “stretch” goals
  • Monitoring their own progress
  • Plan for a rapid response if progress is not being made

Students learn how the Baldrige core values and “best practices” will help them achieve by:

  • Learning to make decisions based on facts
  • Demonstrating agility to respond quickly to changing needs
  • Appreciating and valuing the contributions of others
  • Focusing on the future by understanding expectations
  • Practicing and modeling ethical behaviors

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are based on the results of successful organizations around the world.  The Categories provide the framework to plan for performance results and continuous improvements supported by the Core Values or Best Practices.  When students learn the Baldrige concepts, skills, and values, they are preparing themselves to contribute to the development or successful workings of any organization that they might encounter in the future whether it be a school, business, government, community, or church.

PWCS and the Baldrige Core Values

The Baldrige Criteria are built on the following set of interrelated core values and concepts.  They are embedded beliefs and behaviors found in high-performing educational organizations.  The PWCS strategic plan lists these same values.

  • Visionary leadership
  • Learning-centered education
  • Organizational and personal learning
  • Valuing faculty, staff, and partners
  • Agility
  • Focus on the future
  • Managing for innovation
  • Management by fact
  • Social responsibility
  • Focus on results and creating value
  • Systems perspective

Above information obtained from PWCS BiE Professional Development

The Role of Parents

Where Do You Fit into Baldrige?

Baldrige is a stakeholder model.  Parent involvement is key to the success of a Baldrige guided school or classroom.  Through parent input, schools can:

  • Incorporate the expectations that parents have of their school into school improvement planning
  • Understand the needs of students from the parents’ perspectives
  • Solicit parent expertise in problem-solving
  • Focus contributions of time from volunteers to support goals/objectives
  • Collaborate with parent organizations (e.g. PTO) so their efforts can support the goals/objectives of the school

How Can You Support the School?

  • Participate - Participate in the school improvement planning (SIP) process by attending meetings and being an active and constructive voice as the SIP is developed.  Parents can also participate in other school functions such as going to Back to School nights, giving feedback to teachers, asking questions at school, etc.
  • Contribute – Contribute opinions, comments and feedback.  Schools look to parents for ways to improve.  Be sure to complete surveys as they are provided to you. 
  • Be Informed – Be informed and on the lookout for:  information regarding Baldrige implementation in school newsletters or on the school website; meetings in which you can learn about the school and Baldrige; and your child’s data notebook or folder.  Provide time for your child to share the contents of the notebook or folder.
  • Be Patient – Be patient as the school learns this new process for school improvement.  Remember that Baldrige is about continuous improvement.  Learn about the success and “lessons learned” in the spirit of continuous improvement.  (adapted from College Gardens ES website)